Saudi Arabia hails ‘first building block of strong, secure and stable Sudan’

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Sudan's protest leader Ahmad Rabie (R), flashes the victory gesture alongside General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan (2nd-R), the chief of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), during a ceremony where they signed a "constitutional declaration" in Khartoum on August 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Protesters from the city of Atbara arrive at the Bahari station in Khartoum on August 17, 2019, to celebrate transition to civilian rule. (AFP)
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Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir (R) sits alongside Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) spokesman Shams-Eddin Kabashi (L) while attending a ceremony to sign a "constitutional declaration” in Khartoum on August 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Sudanese momen and men celebrate outside the Friendship Hall in the capital Khartoum where generals and protest leaders signed a historic transitional constitution meant to pave the way for civilian rule in Sudan, on August 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2019

Saudi Arabia hails ‘first building block of strong, secure and stable Sudan’

  • Protest leaders and military chiefs sign historic deal paving way to civilian rule

JEDDAH: Military chiefs and protest leaders in Sudan signed a final power-sharing agreement in Khartoum on Saturday that paves the way for elections and a civilian government.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is known as Hemedti, deputy head of the transitional military council, and opposition alliance representative Ahmad Al-Rabie were the main signatories.

Crowds gathered outside the Friendship Hall convention center where the signing ceremony took place, singing, waving flags and flashing peace signs in celebration.

The ceremony was witnessed by African Union and Ethiopian mediators, who helped broker the deal, and observers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.

The agreement was “the first building block that will contribute to establishing a state with a strong economy and security,” said Adel Al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, who represented the Kingdom. 

“Saudi Arabia has supported, and still supports, all that guarantees Sudan’s security,” Al-Jubeir said. “The stability of Sudan is an important part of the region’s stability, and it contributes to international peace and security.”

The agreement establishes a sovereign council consisting of five members selected by the military, five chosen by the opposition coalition, and one agreed upon by both sides. The military will be represented by military council chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, his deputy Hemedti, Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta and two others to be announced later.

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PHOTOS: Sudanese take to the streets to celebrate transition to civilian rule

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Military chiefs have ruled Sudan since April, when they deposed Omar Bashir after 30 years as president following months of protests against his rule. Hemedti commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, some of whose members have been accused of involvement in killing protesters.

After the signing ceremony, Sudanese civilians were jubilant. “This is the biggest celebration I have ever seen in my country. We have a new Sudan,” said Saba Mohammed, 37, waving a flag.

At Khartoum’s central market, shoppers and traders said they hoped a civilian government would help put food on the table. “Everybody is happy now,” said Ali Yusef, 19, a university student who also works in the market. “We were under the control of the military for 30 years but today we are leaving this behind us and moving toward civilian rule.”

Vegetable trader Ali Issa Abdel Momen said: “I’m 72, and for 30 years under Bashir I had nothing to feel good about. Now … I am starting to breathe.”

The celebrations extended beyond Sudan. In Saudi Arabia, Mostafa Said Mostafa, a Sudanese pilgrim who has just performed Hajj, told Arab News it was “a wonderful end to the revolution and struggles of the Sudanese people over nearly a year.”

Another pilgrim, Dhia Ahmed Wada’a, said the day deserved to be celebrated. “Our prayers during Hajj have been answered,” he said. “Sudan has exited the dark tunnel toward civilian government.”


Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

Updated 20 September 2020

Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

  • President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases

JEDDAH: The official coronavirus death toll in Iran surged past 24,000 on Saturday as health chiefs admitted 90 percent of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in hospital were dying.

Payam Tabarsi, head of infectious diseases at Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran, said the number of emergency room patients had jumped from 68 a day to 200 in the past week. “People are queuing to be admitted,” he said, and if the trend continued, deaths from coronavirus could reach 600 a day within weeks.

Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Iran was slow to react to the first coronavirus cases in February, and is now battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak. Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.

Analysts both inside and outside Iran are skeptical of the official figures and believe the true level of infections and deaths is far higher. President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases.

“Today, the Health Ministry gave a worrying report,” he said on Saturday. “The public’s observance, which was 82 percent in earlier weeks, has fallen to 62 percent.”

FASTFACTS

  • Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118. •Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June. •551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. •Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’
  • Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.
  • 551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271.
  • Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia daily coronavirus case numbers have fallen to a five-month low after 551 new cases were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. The death toll rose by 28 to 4,458. The last time the Kingdom recorded numbers in the 500s was April 15, when 518 cases were reported.

Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a “second wave” of the pandemic after the first outbreaks early in the year.

European countries from Denmark to Greece have announced new restrictions to curb surging infections in some of their largest cities, and Britain is considering new measures to tackle an “inevitable” second wave of COVID-19.

The UK has reported the fifth-largest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico. “We are now seeing a second wave coming in ... it is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

England’s public health chief Yvonne Doyle said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading across all age groups and I am particularly worried by the increase … among older people. This could be a warning of far worse things to come.”